I received this book for free from Author in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.The Calendar of New Beginnings by Ava Miles
Series: Dare Valley #9
Published by Self Published on April 13, 2016
Genres: Contemporary Romance
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International photojournalist Lucy O'Brien returns to her hometown of Dare Valley after a devastating trauma that threatens her livelihood. When her mother asks her to do a photo shoot for a Calendar Girls-like calendar to raise money for breast cancer, she can’t take their…ahem…ribald photos fast enough. Too bad her involvement stirs up her childhood best friend, Boy-Next-Door and widower Andy Hale, in all the wrong ways.
Photojournalist Lucy O’Brien returns to Dare Valley from the Congo following a devastating injury. While she’s recovered from most of them, her optic nerve was damaged and her vision in her right (dominant) eye is still an issue. She’s not told anyone the details for various reasons (some better than others) but her best friend, widower Andy Hale, doesn’t waste time getting her to fess up. To complicate matters, she’s been asked by her mother to photograph a risqué calendar featuring too many people she knows to fundraise for cancer research and she’s not sure she can see well enough to do the project justice.
This is quite a lovely story with some very emotional themes. It’s not your typical friends-to-lovers romance either as there aren’t any secret conflicts between the two and their deepening feelings are a surprise to both, handled maturely and with forthright. Their new relationship developed beautifully. However, Lucy’s entire identity is tied up in her career; she doesn’t know who she is without the ability to express herself through her photography. And, her relationship with her mother is fraught with tension as she struggles to assert her independence. Again, the mother-daughter issues are not your normal ones and you’ll be drawn to both sides.
Let’s not forget Andy who loved his wife deeply and is still recovering, two years later, with her death from breast cancer. His relationship with their five-year old son will warm your heart as he tries to explain loss in ways he can digest and understand. And, Lucy and his wife were good friends so there’s that to contend with as they both grieve and love each other differently.
The issues and the developing relationship are told with eloquence and dignity, despite some moments of comic relief. The resolutions aren’t easy and I loved how they weren’t wrapped neatly in a bow. I can always count on Ava to inspire and this one definitely lifted my spirits. I hope this series never ends.
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